Britain's mighty car manufacturing industry.

The Sun
19th May 2006
Ken Gibson

Britain: The New Economic Powerhouse of Europe (again)

5 billion pounds invested, more jobs and 1.6 million cars made here last year.

Is the UK motor industry on the point of collapse?

It would be easy to think so after the axing of 900 jobs by Vauxhall, Peugeot's decision to close their UK factory and job cuts at sports car firm TVR.

They followed last year's collapse of MG Rover with the loss of 6000 jobs, alongside Jaguar closing their Browns Lane factory.

The reality is a lot less gloomy. In fact, the British car industry is arguably the most efficient and best quality in Europe.

Compared to the strike-ridden days of British Leyland in the Seventies, the UK currently has some great car success stories.

The three Japanese plants operated by Nissan, Toyota and Honda now produce nearly 70,000 cars a year.

Nissan's Sunderland plant has a target of 400,000 cars a year by 2007, which would see it overtake the years of Ford's Dagenham plant and BL's Longbridge.

Over the last decade the Japanese car giants have invested more than 5 billion pounds in the UK and created 10,000 jobs. The UK operations have earned the investment in new models by beating other European or Japanese factories for their work.

BMW have also backed British car workers and now employ 55,000 people here at factories and dealerships.

Their big success has been revitalising the Mini, with 200,000 cars built at their Cowley factory last year after a 500 million pounds investment.

Ford may have ended car production at Dagenham in recent years, but they still employ 33,000 people in their UK operations, which include Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin.

Ironically, the Dagenham factory is enjoying a new lease of life building a million car engines a year. And their factory at Southampton is working flat out producing a new version of the Transit.

Even Vauxhall workers at Ellesmere Port - with a cloud hanging over their long-term future - hit record production levels last year.

They now have the dubious backing of the British Government in their bid to win the next Astra model that would guarantee their future.

Cardiff University's professor Garrell Rhys, a leading car industry expert, believes Ellesmere Port stands a good chance of surviving.

He said: "The UK car industry is in a lot better shape than people think.

Our factories are now among the most efficient and best quality in Europe and strikes have almost completely disappeared."

He added that last year the UK made 1.6 million cars - not far off the record 1.9 million produced in 1972.

But he agreed with trade union leaders that British labour laws made it easier for car firms to get rid of jobs here rather than Europe.

The fact is the car industry across Europe, not just Britain, has been shedding jobs. General Motors and Ford have slashed several thousand and even Mercedes axed 15,000.

There is no doubt the road ahead will be bumpy. But the British car industry is still a formidable force and has the most efficient and productive workers in its long history.

** The Nissan car plant in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, is the most productive car plant in Europe. The Toyota factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire and the Honda factory in Swindon, Wiltshire are the 2nd and 3rd most productive in Europe.
>> The reality is a lot less gloomy. In fact, the British car industry is arguably the most efficient and best quality in Europe.

Ahh.. you should get used to BMW, Audi, VW, Mercedes. The best cars made! Value for your money there.
true, very efficient little numbers that VW, nice little small number, veers to the far right
I have had a whole procession of British sports cars,

9 cars. Most of them handled well, but the reliability was atrocious. The Lucas electrical system on every one of them let me down on a regular basis. The British auto industry is made up almost entirely of branch plants of U.S. or German companies. Where are Rover, BMC, MG, Austin Healy, Triumph, Jaguar? The true British sports car is gone. The Jaguar, Aston Martin, and Lotus, share parts with a bloody Ford sedan.
true juan, they just dont have any class anymore!!! lol
British Sports cars had something,

that other countries have not been able to match. The closest so far, is the Mazda Miata but even that car doesn't have the road feel that my MGA had. I have complained about Lucas electrics and rightly so. There was an old joke: Why do the British like warm beer? Answer: Lucas fridges.
lol, we dont like warm beer, we just dont like to complain about the beer companies either A. think we like warm beer or B. are just taking the pish.

I dont know, I like these big bulky in youre face out and out brash american cars.....I'd like the Hummer Limo I rode in. in Las vegas

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